Fr. Henri Nouwen

Is anybody familiar with the late Fr. Nouwen’s books? I’ve been given The Return of the Prodigal Son by a friend who is becoming Episcopalian, was a Fundie. I don’t know quite what to think of the author; I’ve heard his name invoked among the likes of Chardin, so on the surface he sounds iffy at best.

It was a gift so I’ll read and discuss it with my friend because it is important to him, but should I expect orthodoxy? Is there anything I should be concerned about? It has to do with psychology and pain and was written by a Dutch priest who lectured at Harvard.

I have received much helpful information from reading the books of Fr. Nouwen. The focus of his books is on the reality that we are beloved sons and daughters of the most high God. Many of us have been through difficult times and crises, and knowing how much God loves us, that we are valued, can be especially helpful through such times.
Fr. Nouwen spent time working with ARC, the organization that helps those with cognitive disabilities. I am trying to remember the book that recounts his experience. It was recommended by my spiritual director. Very often Fr. Nouwen recounts his own difficulties and struggles. It is helpful knowing that we are not alone in the temptations we face. In working with ARC, Fr. Nouwen learned much about what it means to love as Christ loves, especially those whom the world rejects.

Great writer! My Methodist Mum even reads his Lent Devotional every year! A classic, great stuff, he was an amazing man!

I absolutely loved that book! I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

Peace

Tim

He’s a great spiritual author. I love reading his books because it really touches people’s heart and problems. Sometimes, I feel that he wrote a book specially for me. He’s truly inspiring.

I’ve quite a lot of his books.
My favourites are his Sabbatical Journey (The one he wrote just before he died), The Road To Daybreak, Seeds of Hop, and Inner voice of love.

He’s truly amazing author.

He’s in Wikipedia. :slight_smile:

He often gets compared to Merton, and he was good friends with Cardinal Bernardin, which, to some people, raises red flags. He struggled with depression and there were rumors that he had homosexual inclinations (which can be taken as seriously as any rumor can be).

Of course, all of this is circumstantial, at best. You can’t fault someone for struggling with issues. And it seems, if he struggled, he did not succumb to them, which speaks to his character.

I believe his most (if not all) of his books are more along the lines of spiritual reading. There are no theological or philosophical or moral treatises (which is what gets certain people like Kung and Curran into trouble).

I’ve heard many people that are skeptical of him, but I’ve never heard anything specific as to what might be problematic. My hunch is that his writings are inspirational to some and seem like fluff to others. Either way, I don’t think any heresy is involved. It’s probably more of a personal preference.

Well I did read the Wikipedia article. I wondered if the same people who are claiming that Newman was gay were the same types saying that Nouwen was. You know, revisionist historians with an agenda or something.

It is true that the names associated with him aren’t great company, but I’m open to what he has to say, I guess.

I have read several of his books. I do find them to be comforting for many of the reasons noted above. I am now reading Sabbitcal Journey which is the diary of Nouwen the year before he died. He does make several comments in support of homosexuality and sometimes criticizes the Church. On the other hand, he holds the Mass and Eucharist in high regard and with reverence. I read his work with a “grain of salt”. I feel the benefits outweigh the negatives for me. Like many of you, I feel I have a well-formed catecethis(sp) and strong faith so I am not shaken by a comment that was written in a persoanl diary.

The name of the book written about his work with L’Arch is Journey to Daybreak. It is one of my favorite books, mainly b/c I work with children with disabilities. I highly recommend it.

Has anyone ever met Nouwen? There is a “society of friends” that exists- anyone had any experience with that?

Peace-

thx IMA

I recently read Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son. I was surprised to see that refers to God as mother, then writes a couple paragraphs using feminine pronouns to reference God. Page 102 reads : "The mystery, indeed is that in her infinite compassion linked herself for eternity with the life of her children."....

He also wrote very clearly about the defiance of the prodigal son leaving and the severity of stating that his father was dead to him. Following this establishment he writes on page 55 "I am touching here the mystery that Jesus himself became the prodigal son for our sake" Personally I can not see where Christ left the father in defiance and returned in repentance.

I read the book for a book club and found it very difficult to read. I must admit I ended up just skimming. But one other thing that stood out to me, he compared Jesus to both of the sons, but I do not recall comparing Jesus to the Father. Which is the actual parallel.

One other thing, why is he not identified as Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen. Did he remain an active priest his entire life?

When I search the internet all I can find is positive wonderful things about him. Yet I felt like i was reading a new age book. Does anyone know where he actually stood with the church?:confused:

For what it's worth - and this would probably be hard to verify at this point - back when EWTN had an "ask the experts" Q&A forum, and this is probably 10 years ago now, someone posed a question to Fr Bob Levis about whether or not Henri Nouwen was in good standing, or problematic, or something like that. Fr Levis's answer was positive or complimentary with respect to Fr Nouwen. Again this is just based on recollection from reading long ago, I don't know if EWTN has those old Q&A's archived.

Back when I deplored Christianity I read Compassion. It was introduced to me by my ex-husband who was raised Seventh-day Adventist. It had been suggested he not read it because "the guy who wrote it wasn't Christian; he was Catholic." Naturally he got the book and read it.

I keep buying the book and giving it away and donating it to libraries. It's that wonderful, in my opinion!:)

[quote="Mary211, post:10, topic:127696"]
I recently read Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son. I was surprised to see that refers to God as mother, then writes a couple paragraphs using feminine pronouns to reference God. Page 102 reads : "The mystery, indeed is that in her infinite compassion linked herself for eternity with the life of her children."....

He also wrote very clearly about the defiance of the prodigal son leaving and the severity of stating that his father was dead to him. Following this establishment he writes on page 55 "I am touching here the mystery that Jesus himself became the prodigal son for our sake" Personally I can not see where Christ left the father in defiance and returned in repentance.

I read the book for a book club and found it very difficult to read. I must admit I ended up just skimming. But one other thing that stood out to me, he compared Jesus to both of the sons, but I do not recall comparing Jesus to the Father. Which is the actual parallel.

One other thing, why is he not identified as Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen. Did he remain an active priest his entire life?

When I search the internet all I can find is positive wonderful things about him. Yet I felt like i was reading a new age book. Does anyone know where he actually stood with the church?:confused:

[/quote]

I haven't read any of Nouwen's stuff myself, but I have heard conflicting reports on him even from Catholics I know to whom doctrinal fidelity is important. Some people love him. Some people don't.

As far as I know, he remained a priest in good standing till the end. I wouldn't read too much into the lack of the "Fr." prefix. That's not uncommon among authors to be referred to simply by their name.

I have always shied away from his stuff, too. I see his books most frequently revered and reprinted by Catholic publishers I do not fully trust. But I certainly wouldn't use my suspicious hunches as any sort of evidence against him.

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